Vancouver Symphony Orchestra to establish classical music institute in Whistler 

RMOW staff report to council outlines plans for orchestral institute aimed at young musicians. Eight-day courses will be offered, starting in 2015

click to enlarge PHOTO BY MIKE CRANE/TOURISM WHISTLER - Last year's free concerts by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra proved very popular at the resort, with classical music under the heavens.
  • Photo by Mike Crane/Tourism Whistler
  • Last year's free concerts by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra proved very popular at the resort, with classical music under the heavens.

The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO) and the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) are deepening their relationship with the establishment of a new training program for young classical musicians.

RMOW staff will present an information report on the development of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestral Institute at Whistler (VSOIW) at the next council meeting on Wednesday, July 2.

The meeting was moved from its usual Tuesday slot to accommodate the Canada Day holiday.

“The RMOW is committed to expanding arts and cultural initiatives consistent with the Whistler Community Cultural Plan and the Cultural Tourism Development Strategy, as well as supporting new learning opportunities consistent with the recommendations of the Whistler Learning and Education Task Force,” said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden in a release.

“We are excited to see the introduction and evolution of a youth program in Whistler that fosters musical education and cultural experiences.”

The VSO is performing a free afternoon concert at Whistler Olympic Plaza on July 1 and other concerts and ensembles until July 5.

Music at the July 1 concert will include pieces by Tchaikovsky, John Williams and Dvorak.

"After nearly a year of discussions, the Vancouver Symphony Society is pleased to see the solidification of a partnership with the Resort Municipality of Whistler by way of this agreement,” said Jeff Alexander, VSS President and CEO.

“This is an opportunity for the VSS to create a new and distinct educational activity by offering regional, national and international students the opportunity to hone their musical skills while studying with members of the VSO in the beautiful landscape of Whistler.”

Information on the collaboration and a Letter of Agreement were part of the council package published on Friday, June 20.

The report states that the RMOW is “committed to expanding arts and cultural initiatives” and the Vancouver Symphony Society (VSS) “desires to expand its classical music education activities with the creation of a summer orchestral program in Whistler” to regional, national and international students.

The pupils, ranging in age from 15 to 22, will be part of an intensive eight-day course, working with members of the orchestra in private lessons and public masterclasses. They will also participate in chamber music and orchestral rehearsals and performances.

The VSS will work to develop, promote and produce the inaugural program, starting in the summer of 2015 and in the following two years, until 2017.

In the Letter of Agreement, the RMOW has agreed to invest up to $175,000 over the three-year relationship at a fee to the VSS for services related to developing, planning, promoting and producing the VSOIW.

Funding for the project is being considered in the 2014 Budget under Learning, Education and Cultural Tourism initiatives, and funded in both 2015 and 2016 “within project discretion,” said the submission.

The municipality will also provide dedicated staff for communications between themselves and the VSS, as well as provide oversight and approval of the VSOIW’s framework, marketing strategy and budget.

The VSS will allocated the time of senior staff to participate in the development at the program, contribute to the strategic framework of the program, develop the budget and cash flow forecast, lead the operational side including securing venues and accommodation, selecting students, and contracting VSO teachers.

The Whistler Arts Council’s new community cultural officer, Anne Popma, will also participate in the creation of the institute.

The Letter of Agreement is not a legally binding document and future negotiations will continue as the course is establish to refine the details, according to the documents in the council package.

For more information check out the next issue of Pique Newsmagazine or visit on July 3.


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